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WHO stops short of declaring monkeypox a global emergency

The World Health Organization called for “coordinated action” to stop the further spread of the monkeypox virus but has not sounded the highest alert of declaring it a global health emergency.

In a report released late on Saturday, the WHO called for surveillance, contact-tracing and isolation of possible monkeypox cases, as well ensuring that vaccines and treatments are available and shared fairly.

“This is clearly an evolving health threat. … It requires our collective attention and coordinated action now to stop the further spread of Monkeypox virus,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

The WHO has so far identified six public health emergencies, including swine flu, Ebola and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The body will continue to monitor the monkeypox outbreak to determine whether it may need to update its recommendations.

Since early May, more than 3,000 cases have been reported to the WHO from 47 countries, including countries without previously reported cases. The highest numbers of cases are currently reported in Europe, the WHO said.

The majority of confirmed cases concern men who have sex with men. The WHO said it is concerned about “the potential for exacerbation of the stigmatization … of affected population groups, which would further impede response efforts.”

Ashleigh Furlong contributed reporting.

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